“Christian Culture” is an ambiguous term. For some, it’s a warm, welcoming collection of believers who are passionate about Church potlucks and Christian radio stations. For others, it’s a self-righteous, judgmental bunch of bigots and hypocrites whose agenda is to simply get everyone to conform to their beliefs for the sake of their own comfort. For most, it’s probably something in-between.
In our Post-Christian culture, being a Christian can seem abstract. Luckily, the Bible lays out a very clear picture of what a group of Christ-devoted followers looks like and is capable of in Acts 2:42–47:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
While this passage can and has been broken down into edible chunks for better understanding, I find it equally helpful to look at the big picture in this section of scripture. The believers in this passage were active, and from their action came great blessing. They caused others to stop in awe, brought people together through Christ, provided for those in need, clung to the true doctrine of God’s teaching, gave joy and love to those they interacted with, and praised God during it all. Imagining this kind of culture is inspiring! Some of us have had glimpses of this kind of culture, or are currently living in this reality. Many of us only see this in limited capacities, or not at all, and don’t know how to replicate it.
This kind of culture can be rare in today’s societies. Many churches and Christians have been unable to keep up with our rapidly changing societies and values, often choosing a side of the argument rather than changing the argument. We either cling to our past influence as if Christianity and its values from just 50 years ago were the height of religion in society, or ignore the foundation of Christianity to create some sort of “new religion” that fits society’s narrative. The fact of the matter is, Christianity seems to be under fire at times. This is perfect; Jesus thrived under these conditions. It is important for Christians to stand out, but for the right reasons.
Our culture is leaving Christianity not because it no longer wants love, joy, and fulfillment, but because that is exactly what it wants, and it no longer finds it with Christians.
We can attribute this to many things, a secular perversion of what those values look like, a loss of touch with the core values of Christianity within the church, some sort of communication barrier between believers and the rest of the world, but the facts remain clear, few could question the love, joy, and devotion of the fellowship of believers. It simply didn’t happen. How could they? They sold their possessions to give to the poor! They brought people together with love and joy! They invested in their relationships with one another! They devoted themselves to the teachings of Jesus, and it showed! This kind of irrevocable and undeniable love and faith is what we want to teach and exemplify to better equip believers to create Christian cultures in any environment. This can happen at churches, in schools, within businesses, for families, friends, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, and whoever one interacts with on any level.
Christians must be standing out, being questioned, and raising eyebrows for what Christians are supposed to be doing. The goal is not to create another safe bubble for Christians, or a tribe of Bible-pounding evangelicals. The purpose is to break barriers between followers of Christ and a post-Christian culture, knowing there is a lot of work to do on the side of Christians.
Don’t use the barriers of a divided nation as an excuse; the disciples were operating in a nation with cultural, political, and ethnic barriers around every turn, and they broke through each of them. Don’t use a financial situation as an excuse; Jesus called both the poor and the rich to be his disciples, not to mention being homeless himself throughout his ministry. Don’t use a lack of skill or knowledge as an excuse; Jesus chose men of faith over men of merit to follow him. Nothing about any person’s situation is something God has not worked through before.
All Christians are called to create a culture that reflects Christ.